The Corner

Easter Island “Ecocide” Theory Debunked

Jared Diamond made a splash last year with his book Collapse, the centerpiece of which was the theory that the Easter Islanders committed “ecocide,” destoying their environment and thereby themselves. Diamond contends that Easter Island was settled about 900 AD, with the famous statues being built in 1000-1600 AD. This activity led to the island’s palm trees, he says, disappearing between 1400 and 1500 AD. This led to civil war in 1680 AD and degeneration into cannibalism (p. 109).

The latest evidence, however, contradicts this timeline (which can actually be traced directly to Thor Heyerdahl’s crazy theories). The new evidence suggests that the island was not colonized until 1200 AD. The palm trees were in fact destroyed by rat infestation before humans were established on the island. And there is little or no evidence of warfare. Instead, what did it for the Easter Islanders was good old fashioned European depredation and exploitation.

Of course, the Greens are not discouraged by this debunking. They say the rat issue shows the dangers of invasive species…

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